tv Inside Story Al Jazeera May 14, 2015 2:00am-2:31am EDT
nobody else goes... >> my name is imran garda i am the host of third rail and you can find it on al jazeera america [ ♪ music ♪ ] it's often portrayed as a transaction, how much of your absolute right to privacy should you surrender to be protected in return? edward snowden leaked the news that the national security agency was vacuuming up vast information from phone calls. now a federal court decided such bulk collection of private phone data is against the law. now what, your phone calls, your privacy versus security. it's tonight's "inside story".
welcome to "inside story," i'm ray suarez, we know the national security agency, or n.s.a. was gathering bulk data on america's phone calls. whether the caller or the recipient was suspected of any connection to a wrongdoing. a federal court's the practice stretched the definition of the word relevance in the current law. the court ruling coming at a critical time as congress, the agencies and the white house are staking out their territories in a debate about the government's power to fry into your privacy. shark. >> reporter: it was shortly after the 9/11 attacks that the bush demonstration under the patriot act began to collect a massive drove of phone records, signed off by the intelligence court of the it continued under president obama. in
2013, the extent of the surveillance was revealed when edward snowden leaked n.s.a. documents indicating the government was sweeping up records of nearly every phone call made in the u.s. the aslu sued claiming this violated americans right to privacy. the court did not rule on that constitutional issue, but said the programme is illegal because it goes beyond what congress intended. >> this is it pretty enormous ruling for the court to hold that a programme that the u.s. government was implementing for over a decade was unlawful, passed. >> under the surveillance program, the government collected the time, date and length of phone calls, but not the content. the government argued it could be relevant to future terrorism investigations. the court rejected that saying:
. >> the ruling could have a broader impact. >> do you think there are other programs that the government may have to halt? do we know? >> we don't know for sure. it's been pretty strongly indicated by senator widen and others that the phone records welcome was not the only bulk collection programs. >> there may be other bulk collection programs ongoing. >> yes. which may not hold up in court. >> correct. >> reporter: lawmakers are in a debate over what to do. a section of the patriot act to justify the collection expires on june 1st. some contend programmes like this must continue. >> why in the world would we think about rolling back the tools, that are the only tools putting us post 9/11, versus pre-9/11. the threat is greater today domestically and around the world than it has been. >> others, including the ranking democrat and a republican member
argue: in other words, it doesn't work to help keep americans safe the white house says it's studying the ruling, but points out that president obama indicates that he does want to modify the programme, and want the phone regards kept not by the government, but by the phone company, and then the fbi would potentially have access to the records on a case-by-case basis. in time, all eyes on congress to see what it does given the court ruling joining me from san francisco, is david green. the director of civil liberties at the electronic frontier foundation, and in los angeles, abraham waing na, a sib -- wagner, a cyber terrorism expert, serving at the national security council, department of intelligence. >> when the court made its
ruling, ruling that bulk data collection of the kind we discussed was illegal. did that end the programme or are we doing it now, as far as you know? >> well, the court did not - the second circuit did not require the n.s.a. to stop its programme. the second circuit said we have made our decision that the statute does not authorise the programme. we'll send the case down to the lower court, to the trial court, and let that court decide who to actually issue an order that would prevent the n.s.a. from continuing the telephone call records collection. when the second circuit did that, it was fully aware of the debate going on in congress right now, and understood that there could soon be that the programme could very soon be stopped by congress, that the statute would be changed to allow the programme to continue. so that's why the second circuit
didn't stop the programme. it was sent back to the trial court, we'll see what happened in congress, and the trial court can decide what action needs to be taken the court action doesn't happen in a vacuum. does it have an impact on the ongoing debate. does everybody who enters the arena to weigh in on this do so to be aware of what the court just said in. >> i think that's the case. the court, in a 97 page opinion went to great length to discuss what was going on in this entire area. for a long period of time it discussed the various studies ordered by the white house, and was done by the privacy and civil liberties board, what the arguments were pro and con between the congress, and there has been, as they say, a fairly extensive debate both within the congress - house and senate - and in the media.
it's a fairly lively debate, although not particularly well informed in many cases, as to what we are exactly talking about in this particular programme, which is nomally referred to in the press as the 215 programme, authorised under the patriot pact there's many types of information collection. there's the bulk collection of telephone data, going on to the internet to monitor traffic, intersocial media, look for signs of recruiting, email traffic, things of the like - are they affected, abraham wagner - by different statutes and are they really different piles of data almost. >> they really are, and you have peels. you make a good point. what we talk about in this programme, the 215 programme is something commonly referred to
as metadata, which 99% of the people listening to anything have no idea what you are talking about. the best way to describe the metadata is old phone bills, phone records. and the supreme court in 1979 ruled that these are business records, they are not covered by the 4th amendment. i think most people would agree that a pile of old phone records under the care of the national security agency to be used only in the case where there's suspicion of a terrorist is not a great invasion of their privacy. the second category within this personal conversations, personal phone calls, actual communications are covered by different sections. they were covered by the supreme court in the kat's case, they are covered by fiza and are different statues and sections of the law. the third category, which is highly important right now are
things that are placed on the internet by people. in social media, posted on facebook, posted on twitter, where people vol tare by put things out into the - into cyber space to be viewed by anyone including the law enforcement and national intelligence agencies. you have several categories of data and you need to tease them apart and see what statute supply and what liberties people are willing to give up in the name of preventing more terrorist attacks. >> let me turn to david green. you heard it laid out, the way the different kinds of data are collected under different statutes. are there different reactions among civil libertarians from people that worry about privacy. do some cross the line in different ways from other, the way you see it? >> they do. i have a few rehabilitations to what professor laid out.
we forgot around apparent category of weapons, and that's all internet traffic. one of the things disclosed in 2006 is that the n.s.a. installed a splitter, and essentially gets a copy of all internet traffic. we filed a lawsuit about this in 2006. and another in 2008. that loss is ongoing. that programme copies all internet traffic, email, all searches, everything. that is not conducted under the business records of the patriot act, but section 702. it is a different statutory authorisation. if you talk about the legality or what we would say is illegality of that section, you'd look at the statute and the constitutional issues that are presented. i disagree that the telephone records, the telephone bills is something that most would be okay with.
it's one thing to say the government can occasionally see a telephone bill. the other thing is are people really okay with the government having a record of every single telephone call they make and receive, for the fact that they made it, and the fact that they received it. if you call, are you okay with the government knowing you called your marriage counsellor or a venereal disease doctor, or a suicide hotline, are you okay with the government having that information, and maybe i travel in different circles than professor wagner. most of the people i talk to find it's a significant invasion of priority. that is under section 215, and all the second sections ruled on the invasion of that programme, of the telephone call records collection. it's true. there's so many of these programs. i believe we know about few of them. what we are going to have to do eventually is to look at the
programme and the individual legality, both with respect to the statute, the authorisation of the n.s.a. that they say they have to conduct the programme, and the limits of the constitution we'll pick up where you left off, david green, and talk about whether those pieces of surveillance are benign, are welcome and willing to be gone for americans, in return for their security. it's been almost 14 years since the september 11th attacks, when the government ramped up investigations. is there a way to build the system that assures privacy is protected and what is the cost. we'll continue that conversation next on "inside story". >> tuesday. you know his music but what about the man? >> i was given a gift. >> up close and personal. behind the scenes of the
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from the people who are affected. >> people need to demand reform... >> ali velshi on target weeknights 10:30p et [ ♪♪ ] welcome back to "inside story" on al jazeera america this week the chairman of the senate foreign relations committee, bob corker of tennessee said he was shocked not at the data the national security agency is collected, but how little. he said we should worry left about privacy and the n.s.a. should be able to collect phone record, while a new bill passed the house reflecting the president's desire to end bulk collection, but allowing the n.s.a. and other agencies to get records with a phone oort. back with us david green, and abraham wagner. a cyber terrorism expert.
professor wagner, you heard david green disagree with your depiction of the government bulk data collection of nothing more than the information cop void in a phone bill. he finds is more intrusive and suspects other americans feel the same which. >> i disagree. you have to look at what is going on. the phone records, as we have discussed before, six exist in the form of old phone bills from the phone company, are stored at n.s.a., and they are only accessed in the case where a federal court - the fiza court issues an ord where they have a reasonable suspicion that a terrorist is involved. then they can query the database for the ceda or selector involving this terrorist to see who he or she might have called. the fact that there are millions of pieces of data in the database locked at n.s.a. that are never looked at or touched
unless there's a case for someone suspected of terrorism, it's something that people are comfortable with. >> a pile of information not accessed unless there's a reasonable suspicion of something that needs to be looked at. what do you think? >> i disagree. it's the argument that the government made in the clapper case, in the a.c.l.u.'s case found in new york, and the second circuit disagreed. they held that the meta data mattered and was important. they read declaration of experts and researchers that looked at information and found it was rich information. and they found that it wasn't so benign simply for the government to check and say they'd never look at it. if they looked at it, they queried the database when they look for a match to a selector, and de don't just stop when they
find the telephone number of all the people that called the terrorists, or whom the suspected terrorist had called, they go another hop, and they look at all the people who called or were called by that level of people. if you ordered a pizza from the same place that a suspected terrorist did, your information will be gathered and analysed. the programme went one hop further, and looked at the next level of all the people who called or were called by it. this is a vast amount of information analyse every time terrorists. >> let me go back to professor wagner. the house passed today a bipartisan bill that would have this information available in response to a court order, rather than compiled and held in vast data stores by the federal government. a workable system? your view? >> not particularly. if we take the view that the
data is not going to be stored at n.s.a., but rather will be stored at the phone company verizon, or one of the other phone companies, and you are talking about servers that are maintained by people who have no security clearances, that are open to hacking, and the phone company has no responsibility to maintain the data over time, what do you want to pick - having it stored securitily at n.s.a. with cleared people only to be used or sitting on a verizon server where lord nose what will happen. it's not at workable system to run down to the court, get an order, get back in time so maybe verizon or at&t may have stored the data, make and make it available. it's not a workable system. in that case, in a counter-terrorism investigation, timeliness is important.
>> timeliness but transparency, is that not the case. there was a lot going on that we were told was not going on, it was only edward snowden revelations that let us know exactly what the government was collecting on us. >> well, you know, the intelligence business is one that in large part has to be shrouded in secrecy. if our advo siries did what we do and how we did it, we'd be out of business. the founding fathers put that in the constitution that the proceedings of the legislature has to be published except for where secrecy is involved. we maintained this for the last 100 years. you can't run the intelligence business telling everyone everything. programs are undertaken in secrecy trying to keep the nation safe. that's what we'll need to continue to do. >> we'll have to leave it there. thank you both.
the choices facing the country about privacy and civilians are largely in the -- surveillance are largely in the hands of court and congress, you have some choices. what are the choices facing the heads of senate. president, and law enforcement. are they largely political? we'll cover that next on "inside story". stay with me.
joining me now from new york is adam levin, a privacy expert, and the chair and founder of the i.d. t, 911, focussed on identity management solutions. you heard our previous guests. if you were sitting with someone that owns a phone, a computer, lives a work a day life, monday through friday, nine to five,
and may have listened to abraham wagner, he may have thought i do want people in law enforcement looking for terrorists to find them. the same person heard david green and said "no, i don't want the government to look at everything i do in my private forth. what would you want them to know about their digital life before they make up the mind about government surveillance? >> i think what they have to understand is that our privacy is under assault every minute. it's under assault in the private sector, it's underassault in the public sector. that law enforcement needs to have tools to do what it needs to do, but is the responsibility of government to protect as best it can the privacy of its citizens. i'll give you a perfect example of something talked about not too long ago. there is a database for law enforcement.
and for the banking system called finsen. and they collect all the suspicious activity reports from banks, and there is limited access by law enforcement. but it is to help the banking community understand some of the strange things that are going on in banking. and you could, by writing a check to a contractor, because you wanted to pay in cash and save money, and the contractor had their own specific reasons why they wanted it in cash. you could end up on a suspicious activity report because you wrote a check for $10,000 in cash which brought into mind is this money laundering. what is in? >> there was a move afood to have regulations adopted that would allow the intelligence agencies access to the database. i'm not sure what happened to that. think about it.
you write a check on something that is harmless, yet now you have to worry that not only are you on a suspicious activity report with the financial community, but you could be the target of n.s.a. surveillance, or some activity by the fbi, the c.i.a. or something like that. >> how do we find the sweet spot between total privacy and being totally naked to any data search that a government agency wants to do. how do we find the balance between what passes the average person's sniff test with what is okay. what is beyond the bounds? >> well, the question really is, is it relevant to some investigation of a terrorist act? are we simply warehousing everything in sight and is this nothing more than a fishing expedition. you know, there are strict guidelines, for instance, as to what law enforce.
can do in normal -- law enforcement can do in normal criminal activity. most people would say if something occurred giving you probable cause to take a hard look at me, that's one thing. if you warehouse everything i do, not to mention the issues raised with the email read and the fact that everywhere you turn, you get the feeling when you communicate with someone, someone is looking over your shoulder, that creates an uncomfortable environment, and there has to be a middle ground. and that is something that ultimately has to be worked out with policy experts, and, you know, working with law enforcement, but with privacy advocates as well. this is not something that can be done in a vacuum. >> we have a brief amount of time left before we go. will you be glad to see the bulk data collection on june 1st. if that's what congress allows
to happen. >> i'd like to see at sunset. i don't think government needs to have everything. i am always worried when you have that much data in one place, and when you hear a secure database, when you look at what happened with the white house, the state department, the postal service and the hacks, there is no security database right now, and that is of great concern to me adam levin of i.d. t, 911. i'll be back with final thoughts on data collection and surrender in the age of social media. send us your thoughts on twitter at aj inside story, or follow me and get in hutch touch at facebook and tell us your own stories, we'd love to hear them.
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noise] ♪ ♪ [x1 chime] ♪ ♪ [crowd cheers] oh! i can't believe it! [cheering] hi, grandma! ♪ it's been interesting to watch the debate over security and surveillance evolve in tandem with social media and the rise of shared user created content. some of the people angry about the idea of government knowing
they called their aunt ida are among some of the same that polled status and said they were going to have a meal with aunt eyeda, took a picture of the meal. we are negotiating the boundaries of public and private. the ability of anyone to call everyone else anywhere else all the time helped to destroy distance, time and location. and at the same moment created records, evidence, data that a phone booth and a quarter never could. with all that information comes the comforting idea, the illusion that the act of keeping a track of it all makes us safer, but the more prove use any information is, the harder it is to use, find what is important and discard the voluminous data that is useless. unless there's something about aunt ida that you are not letting on. thank you for joining us on
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